The Myth of the Mortally Wounded Rose in Franz Kafka's "A Country Doctor"

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    Rua
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    Source Text: A Country Doctor
    --------------------------------
    I propose to examine Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor through the lens of CT's Te-Fi axis; I will primarily be emphasizing and analyzing two oft-intertwined myths of Fi-Te one finds in this narrative. For now I have taken to calling these myths: Mortally Wounded Rose & Rape of the Rose.
    With narratives as rich in symbolism and linguistic density as Kafka's A Country Doctor I do not believe there can be one definitive analysis of the work, only analyses of greater and lesser usefulness. In a similar context, I will be passing over in silence many things that are intrinsic to the work and to Kafka's style as a writer but that are not overtly necessary for understanding the viewpoint put forward here. Hopefully it is found useful.
    [I have split my commentary up into sections ordered chronologically and titled them, leaving out as little text from the source document as possible while continuing to quote text directly from the source material in my commentaries; this is done to better intertwine the story's own language and themes into the analysis; I find repetition to be warranted when treating Kafka's work.]
    The piece begins in the foggy series of crises that often constitute a nightmare, and it can be experienced as a journey into the unconscious as translated through our eponymous country doctor's voice:

    --------------------------------
    I was in great difficulty. An urgent journey was facing me. A seriously ill man was waiting for me in a village ten miles distant. A severe snowstorm filled the space between him and me. I had a carriage—a light one, with large wheels, entirely suitable for our country roads. Wrapped up in furs with the bag of instruments in my hand, I was already standing in the courtyard ready for the journey; but the horse was missing—the horse. My own horse had died the previous night, as a result of over exertion in this icy winter. My servant girl was at that very moment running around the village to see if she could borrow a horse, but it was hopeless—I knew that—and I stood there useless, increasingly covered with snow, becoming all the time more immobile. The girl appeared at the gate, alone. She was swinging the lantern. Of course, who is now going to lend her his horse for such a journey?

    ================BEGINNING=================
    Here the setting is immediately dire and of the greatest significance (signalling the emergence of unconscious contents); someone is desperately in need of the doctor's help but he cannot get there. The doctor's horse is missing-- in fact it died the previous night, "over-exertion in this icy winter." The doctor sends his servant girl (as yet unnamed) to ask the village for help which doesn't come. An increasing feeling of uselessness and immobility creeps into the doctor.
    [It seems to me the most likely psychological explanation for the doctor's dead horse is that outward conditions have become so bad that the old way which one used to accomplish things can no longer be found or followed; the horse died due to "over-exertion in this icy winter".]

    --------------------------------
    I walked once again across the courtyard. I couldn’t see what to do. Distracted and tormented, I kicked my foot against the cracked door of the pig sty which had not been used for years. The door opened and banged to and fro on its hinges. A warmth and smell as if from horses came out. A dim stall lantern on a rope swayed inside. A man huddled down in the stall below showed his open blue-eyed face. “Shall I hitch up?” he asked, crawling out on all fours. I didn’t know what to say and bent down to see what was still in the stall. The servant girl stood beside me. “One doesn’t know the sorts of things one has stored in one’s own house,” she said, and we both laughed.

    ================THE PORTAL================
    Here is the first critical point in the narrative. The doctor has nothing to do, and in his desperation and "torment" he kicks the "cracked door of the pig sty which had not been used for years." The Portal. Inside is a man with an "open blue-eyed face", and the smell of horses. The servant girl makes a vital remark, "One doesn’t know the sorts of things one has stored in one’s own house,"which points a large sign towards the man and the other contents of the stall being unleashed elements of the unconscious. This is indicated in several ways. The house should by now be a well-known object in psychoanalysis; it is most frequently used to represent the psyche in dreams and visualizations (Jung makes personal reference to this phenomenon in his writings). The man and the contents of the stall come from this same part of the house, the unconscious portal beneath the surface, the unused and neglected, the dirty. This aspect of the psyche is conceived of as a literal pig sty, demonstrating severe neglect and devaluation when appraised by consciousness. The doctor and the girl laugh at her remark about never knowing what you'll find in your own house, displaying ignorance and carelessness of their own house; a bad omen.

    --------------------------------
    “Hey, Brother, hey Sister,” the groom cried out, and two horses, powerful animals with strong flanks, shoved their way one behind the other, legs close to the bodies, lowering their well-formed heads like camels, and getting through the door space, which they completely filled, only through the powerful movements of their rumps. But right away they stood up straight, long legged, with thick steaming bodies. “Help him,” I said, and the girl obediently hurried to hand the wagon harness to the groom. But as soon as she was beside him, the groom puts his arms around her and pushes his face against hers. She screams out and runs over to me. On the girl’s cheek were red marks from two rows of teeth. “You brute,” I cry out in fury, “do you want the whip?”. But I immediately remember that he is a stranger, that I don’t know where he comes from, and that he’s helping me out of his own free will, when everyone else is refusing to. As if he knows what I was thinking, he takes no offence at my threat, but turns around to me once more, still busy with the horses.

    ================THE HORSES================
    One cannot ignore the obvious physical, almost slapstick comedy of two fully-grown horses clambering out of a small door in a pig sty "only through the powerful movements of their rumps,' and promptly expanding to their full, majestic sizes. (Brief note: this is one element or style of comedy in Kafka's writing.) Here is another critical point in the narrative: The doctor orders the servant girl to hand the wagon harness to the "blue-eyed man", hereafter referred to as the groom.
    [Note: The pun of the groom (the character is both horse-groom and bridegroom in this narrative) is flawlessly employed, demonstrating succinctly and effectively the groom's dual function in the story as both the infernal master of the unearthly horses and the suitor of Rosa, the evil rival to the country doctor (who admits to having neglected Rosa). The doctor later says of Rosa, "[she] lives in my house all year long and... I scarcely notice".]
    As soon as she gets close enough the groom "puts his arms around her and pushes his face against hers. She screams out and runs over to me." The groom has bitten her, and the doctor rages at him and threatens him with a whipping, however he immediately changes his mind, "remember[ing] that he is a stranger, that I don't know where he comes from, and that he’s helping me out of his own free will, when everyone else is refusing to. As if he knows what I was thinking, he takes no offence at my threat, but turns around to me once more, still busy with the horses. "This is absolutely crucial. The doctor turns away from his duty to protect his servant due to fear of the unknown elements of this unconscious entity, with justifications that it is OK because no one else in the village is helping him. And because the key actions of the piece takes place largely in the psychotic underbelly of the psyche, the groom knows the doctor's thoughts and ignores his empty threat, continuing to "busy [himself] with the horses."

    --------------------------------
    Then he says, “Climb in,” and, in fact, everything is ready. I notice that I have never before traveled with such a beautiful team of horses, and I climb in happily. “But I’ll take the reins. You don’t know the way,” I say. “Of course,” he says; “I’m not going with you. I’m staying with Rosa.” “No,” screams Rosa and runs into the house, with an accurate premonition of the inevitability of her fate. I hear the door chain rattling as she sets it in place. I hear the lock click. I see how in addition she runs down the corridor and through the rooms putting out all the lights in order to make herself impossible to find. “You’re coming with me,” I say to the groom, "or I’ll give up the journey, no matter how urgent it is. It’s not my intention to give you the girl as the price of the trip.” “Giddy up,” he says and claps his hands. The carriage is torn away, like a piece of wood in a current. I still hear how the door of my house is breaking down and splitting apart under the groom’s onslaught, and then my eyes and ears are filled with a roaring sound which overwhelms all my senses at once.

    ================ROSA AND THE GROOM================
    The doctor admires the "beautiful team of horses" and climbs in the carriage happily, attempting to take charge by saying he will take the reins as he knows the way; the groom of course agrees and says he will be "staying with Rosa" (naming the servant girl for the first time). Rosa screams out in protest then runs into the house with "an accurate premonition of the inevitability of her fate"; the doctor tells the groom he must come with him or he won't make the journey, and says, "It's not my intention to give you the girl as the price of the trip." to which the groom responds, "Giddy up," and sends the doctor and carriage off into the night. Rosa has by now barricaded and hid herself in the doctor's house and is attempting to hide from the groom, whose furious assault literally starts splitting apart the door of the house as the horses gallop away, and "then my eyes and ears are filled with a roaring sound which overwhelms all my senses at once." One can think of this as a lapse of consciousness that brings the doctor to the next setting or phase of the story now that he has failed to protect Rosa.
    [Note: Concurrent with and intertwined with the myth of the The Mortally Wounded Rose is the myth of The Rape of the Rose. I use the word primarily in its historical sense, as in *The Rape of Persephone*, in which Hades abducts the daughter of Demeter and secretly feeds her a pomegranate seed to keep her spirit tied to Hades. However, I would never want to deny that real stories of men abducting women most commonly involve acts of sexual violence; undoubtedly this horrible fact would constitute common knowledge for the Ancient Greeks as well.]
    Here the doctor has failed to protect Rosa, and the doctor's own house is being invaded; his sacred rose will be taken in accord with the Rape of the Rose.

    --------------------------------
    But only for a moment. Then I am already there, as if the farmyard of my invalid opens up immediately in front of my courtyard gate. The horses stand quietly. The snowfall has stopped, moonlight all around. The sick man’s parents rush out of the house, his sister behind them. They almost lift me out of the carriage. I get nothing from their confused talking. In the sick room one can hardly breathe the air. The neglected cooking stove is smoking. I want to push open the window, but first I’ll look at the sick man. Thin, without fever, not cold, not warm, with empty eyes, without a shirt, the young man under the stuffed quilt heaves himself up, hangs around my throat, and whispers in my ear, “Doctor, let me die.” I look around. No one has heard. The parents stand silently, leaning forward, and wait for my opinion.

    =========FIRST WISH FOR DEATH EXTERNALIZED==============
    Just as in a dream, the doctor appears at the destination first stated to be "ten miles distant" instantly. The air in the sick room can hardly be breathed and a "neglected cooking stove is smoking." The actual man is initially perceived to be "thin, without fever, not cold, not warm, with empty eyes, without a shirt...and [he] whispers in my ear, “Doctor, let me die.” I look around. No one has heard. The parents stand silently, leaning forward, and wait for my opinion." The patient is observed as a neutral vessel, a blank screen upon which the doctor projects his wish to die, and so of course the patient immediately says that he wants to die, expressing the doctor's own desire to die now that Rosa has been lost to him.

    --------------------------------
    The sister has brought a stool for my handbag. I open the bag and look among my instruments. The young man constantly gropes at me from the bed to remind me of his request. I take some tweezers, test them in the candle light, and put them back. “Yes,” I think blasphemously, “in such cases the gods do help. They send the missing horse, even add a second one because it’s urgent, and even throw in a groom as a bonus.” Now for the first time I think once more of Rosa. What am I doing? How am I saving her? How do I pull her out from under this groom, ten miles away from her, with uncontrollable horses in the front of my carriage? These horses, who have somehow loosened their straps, are pushing open the window from outside, I don’t know how. Each one is sticking its head through a window and, unmoved by the crying of the family, is observing the invalid. “I’ll go back right away,” I think, as if the horses were ordering me to journey back, but I allow the sister, who thinks I am in a daze because of the heat, to take off my fur coat.

    ================ROSA/ THE HORSES================
    Here the doctor has been plunged into chaos, blasphemous in his own estimation and deeply remorseful and troubled at the fate of Rosa and how to "pull her out from under this groom, ten miles away from her, with uncontrollable horses in the front of my carriage?" Here we see how the horses appear to have their own unconscious autonomy just as the groom does, and they have loosened their own straps and "are pushing open the window from outside, I don’t know how." The horses force their heads into the house, "observing the invalid" and the doctor feels "as if the horses were ordering me to journey back". Again we observe the mental fluidity of psychosis, in which the appearance of the horses coincides with the doctor's own thought to "go back right away", and is attributed to the horses themselves.

    --------------------------------
    A glass of rum is prepared for me. The old man claps me on the shoulder; the sacrifice of his treasure justifies this familiarity. I shake my head. In the narrow circle of the old man’s thinking I was not well; that’s the only reason I refuse to drink. The mother stands by the bed and entices me over. I follow and, as a horse neighs loudly at the ceiling, lay my head on the young man’s chest, which trembles under my wet beard. That confirms what I know: the young man is healthy. His circulation is a little off, saturated with coffee by his caring mother, but he’s healthy and best pushed out of bed with a shove. I’m no improver of the world and let him lie there. I am employed by the district and do my duty to the full, right to the point where it’s almost too much. Badly paid, but I’m generous and ready to help the poor. I still have to look after Rosa, and then the young man may have his way, and I want to die too. What am I doing here in this endless winter! My horse is dead, and there is no one in the village who’ll lend me his. I have to drag my team out of the pig sty. If they hadn’t happened to be horses, I’d have had to travel with pigs. That’s the way it is. And I nod to the family. They know nothing about it, and if they did know, they wouldn’t believe it. Incidentally, it’s easy to write prescriptions, but difficult to come to an understanding with people.

    ================THE TURN================
    Here already in the second line a minor sacrifice of the old man's "treasure", his rum, prefigures the greater sacrifice that will be seen in the subsequent section. Another theme that will be repeated is that each time the doctor examines the patient from here on out it will be accompanied by some action from the horse. In this case it merely neighs "loudly at the ceiling". The doctor takes the patient's trembling as he feels the doctor's wet beard on his chest as evidence the patient is healthy, "and best pushed out of bed with a shove. I’m no improver of the world and let him lie there. I am employed by the district and do my duty to the full, right to the point where it’s almost too much. Badly paid, but I’m generous and ready to help the poor." Here we see the doctor give the fullest account of his own character yet, describing himself as a generous and helpful soul for the poor, but one who is poorly rewarded for his efforts.
    Unpacking the last section, starting with, "I still have to look after Rosa": This is an extremely important section to unravel. The first thing to look at is the doctor's admittance that "the young man may have his way, and I want to die too." The doctor again expresses this desire to die, and there is something important here that is still unclear to me, which is whether they "young man" refers to the groom or the patient. If it is the groom, then the doctor must surely be tacitly admitting that the groom can "have his way" with Rosa, and if it refers to the patient then it could refer to the patient's desire to die; perhaps both could be implied. The doctor refers to the death of his horse and how no one in the village would lend him one, that if he hadn't happened to find the horses, "I’d have had to travel with pigs". I suspect this is more Kafkaesque comedy in which the two horses in the story really do represent hellish or infernal creatures oft-associated with swine and the unclean, the Gerasene demoniac, and they did indeed crawl out from a magical pig sty in the doctor's psyche. We end this section with the narrator unable to connect to the family around him, "That’s the way it is. And I nod to the family. They know nothing about it, and if they did know, they wouldn’t believe it. Incidentally, it’s easy to write prescriptions, but difficult to come to an understanding with people." This last sentence feels especially like the predecessor to more than a few similar-sounding statements made by narrators in Haruki Murakami's fiction, and encapsulates the emotional troubles of the doctor in his relations with others.

    --------------------------------
    Now, at this point my visit might have come to an end—they have once more called for my help unnecessarily. I’m used to that. With the help of my night bell the entire region torments me, but that this time I had to sacrifice Rosa as well, this beautiful girl, who lives in my house all year long and whom I scarcely notice—this sacrifice is too great, and I must somehow in my own head subtly rationalize it away for the moment, in order not to let loose at this family who cannot, even with their best will, give me Rosa back again.

    ================THE SACRIFICE================
    Another pivotal section. Here the doctor acknowledges he has "had to sacrifice Rosa as well" and "must somehow in my own head subtly rationalize it away for the moment". This is Te rationalizing a sacrifice (in this case a betrayal) of Fi, and there is no external comfort to be found, all Te can do is "not to let loose at this family who cannot, even with their best will, give me Rosa back again."

    --------------------------------
    He smiles up at me, as if I was bringing him the most nourishing kind of soup—ah, now both horses are whinnying, the noise is probably supposed to come from higher regions in order to illuminate my examination—and now I find out that, yes indeed, the young man is ill. On his right side, in the region of the hip, a wound the size of the palm of one’s hand has opened up. Rose coloured, in many different shadings, dark in the depths, brighter on the edges, delicately grained, with uneven patches of blood, open to the light like a mine. That’s what it looks like from a distance. Close up a complication is apparent. Who can look at that without whistling softly? Worms, as thick and long as my little finger, themselves rose coloured and also spattered with blood, are wriggling their white bodies with many limbs from their stronghold in the inner of the wound towards the light. Poor young man, there’s no helping you. I have found out your great wound. You are dying from this flower on your side.

    ================GREAT WOUND/ THE DYING FLOWER================
    The doctor returns to the patient, who is now looking at him "as if I was bringing him the most nourishing kind of soup" as the horses begin whinnying, a noise said "to come from higher regions in order to illuminate my examination—and now I find out that, yes indeed, the young man is ill. On his right side, in the region of the hip, a wound the size of the palm of one’s hand has opened up." Now that the doctor has sacrificed Rosa (the Rose) he can observe the mortal wound in his patient (himself). This is the Mortally Wounded Rose myth, when once the Te user has sacrificed their Fi they can observe themselves to have a mortal wound which begs for death. The wound is described specifically as "Rose coloured" with depths and intensities of color, "brighter on the edges, delicately grained, with uneven patches of blood, open to the light like a mine." Shades of Fi. Continuing, "Close up a complication is apparent. Who can look at that without whistling softly? Worms, as thick and long as my little finger, themselves rose coloured and also spattered with blood, are wriggling their white bodies with many limbs from their stronghold in the inner of the wound towards the light." Here is the visceral, disgust-inspired imagery of Fi wherein worms are described in gross detail and as coming from "the inner of the wound towards the light." The worms come from the rot at the center of the wound and spread outwards. Finally, "Poor young man, there’s no helping you. I have found out your great wound. You are dying from this flower on your side." The Mortally Wounded Rose.

    --------------------------------
    The family is happy; they see me doing something. The sister says that to the mother, the mother tells the father, the father tells a few guests who are coming in on tip toe through the moonlight of the open door, balancing themselves with outstretched arms. “Will you save me?” whispers the young man, sobbing, quite blinded by the life inside his wound. That’s how people are in my region. Always demanding the impossible from the doctor. They have lost the old faith. The priest sits at home and tears his religious robes to pieces, one after the other. But the doctor is supposed to achieve everything with his delicate surgeon’s hand. Well, it’s what they like to think. I have not offered myself. If they use me for sacred purposes, I let that happen to me as well. What more do I want, an old country doctor, robbed of my servant girl! And they come, the families and the village elders, and take my clothes off. A choir of school children with the teacher at the head stands in front of the house and sings an extremely simple melody with the words
    Take his clothes off, then he’ll heal,
    and if he doesn’t cure, then kill him.
    It’s only a doctor; it’s only a doctor.

    ================STRIPPED BARE================
    Guests enter the home "on tip toe through the moonlight of the open door, balancing themselves with outstretched arms." Here is more explicit reference that we are in the realm of dreams and the unconscious, as the guests enter the narrative through moonlight and just as in a dream fill the house up immediately and with nonsensical rapidity through another portal. “Will you save me?” whispers the young man, sobbing, quite blinded by the life inside his wound. That’s how people are in my region. Always demanding the impossible from the doctor. They have lost the old faith. The priest sits at home and tears his religious robes to pieces, one after the other. But the doctor is supposed to achieve everything with his delicate surgeon’s hand." A very telling phrase, "quite blinded by the life inside his wound" is used by the doctor here in reference to the mortal wound, wherein the life inside the wound has clear, deathly effects on the wounded. Here we see the doctor bemoaning his fate that the people he serves expect everything of him and his "delicate surgeon’s hand", while the priests sit at home and "tears his religious robes to pieces". This appears to be a fear of the conscious, rational mind that relies upon scientific methods when it finds itself in an age where faith in God is substituted for faith in Science. The doctor says of the people, "They have lost the old faith." Clearly the doctor feels inadequate to the task he thinks is expected of him by the people, laying at least partial blame on the people he serves for having "lost the old faith." Then the doctor says, "Well, it’s what they like to think. I have not offered myself. If they use me for sacred purposes, I let that happen to me as well. What more do I want, an old country doctor, robbed of my servant girl! And they come, the families and the village elders, and take my clothes off." The doctor then allows himself to be used for "sacred purposes" by the people, having little more to ask for without his "servant girl". The doctor is then stripped naked and a choir of school children led by a teacher sing a threatening little ditty in which they make clear a mechanism by which the doctor can be purified by being stripped bare, and if that doesn't work he can then be killed, "It’s only a doctor; it’s only a doctor."

    --------------------------------
    They lay me against the wall on the side of the wound. Then they all go out of the room. The door is shut. The singing stops. Clouds move in front of the moon. The bedclothes lie warmly around me. In the open space of the windows the horses’ heads sway like shadows. “Do you know,” I hear someone saying in my ear, “my confidence in you is very small. You were shaken out from somewhere. You don’t come on your own feet. Instead of helping, you give me less room on my deathbed. The best thing would be if I scratch your eyes out.” “Right,” I say, “it’s a disgrace. But now I’m a doctor. What am I supposed to do? Believe me, things are not easy for me either.” “Should I be satisfied with this excuse? Alas, I’ll probably have to be. I always have to make do. I came into the world with a beautiful wound; that was all I was furnished with.” “Young friend,” I say, “your mistake is that you have no perspective. I’ve already been in all the sick rooms, far and wide, and I tell you your wound is not so bad. Made in a tight corner with two blows from an axe. Many people offer their side and hardly hear the axe in the forest, to say nothing of the fact that it’s coming closer to them.” “Is that really so, or are you deceiving me in my fever?” “It is truly so. Take the word of honour of a medical doctor.” He took my word and grew still. But now it was time to think about my escape.

    ================THE SHADOW/ THE ESCAPE================
    Here the stage is set, the position of the doctor "on the side of the wound" is made explicit, the clouds moving "in front of the moon" set the psychic stage, and the last word we read before the patient begins talking is the horses' heads' "shadows", a reference to the patient's identity as the doctor's shadow. “Do you know,” I hear someone saying in my ear, “my confidence in you is very small. You were shaken out from somewhere. You don’t come on your own feet. Instead of helping, you give me less room on my deathbed. The best thing would be if I scratch your eyes out.” “Right,” I say, “it’s a disgrace. But now I’m a doctor. What am I supposed to do? Believe me, things are not easy for me either.” “Should I be satisfied with this excuse? Alas, I’ll probably have to be. I always have to make do. I came into the world with a beautiful wound; that was all I was furnished with.” The doctor is stripped of everything and the patient exhorts him for how unhelpful the doctor is, that he doesn't "come on [his own] feet", only giving the patient "less room on my deathbed". The doctor acquiesces to his shadow's accusations against him but makes excuses for himself; although the shadow is initially furious, it attempts to satisfy itself with the doctor's weak excuse and declares that a beautiful wound is all it will ever have in the world. “Young friend,” I say, “your mistake is that you have no perspective. I’ve already been in all the sick rooms, far and wide, and I tell you your wound is not so bad. Made in a tight corner with two blows from an axe. Many people offer their side and hardly hear the axe in the forest, to say nothing of the fact that it’s coming closer to them.” “Is that really so, or are you deceiving me in my fever?” “It is truly so. Take the word of honour of a medical doctor.” He took my word and grew still. But now it was time to think about my escape." The doctor uses an appeal to his well-traveled expertise, with rationalizations and analogies to trick his shadow, claiming that the wound is really not so bad as it seems, knowing he is lying in order to make a quick escape.

    --------------------------------
    The reins dragging loosely, one horse barely harnessed to the other, the carriage swaying behind, last of all the fur coat in the snow. “Giddy up,” I said, but there was no giddying up about it. We dragged through the snowy desert like old men; for a long time the fresh but inaccurate singing of the children resounded behind us:
    Enjoy yourselves, you patients.
    The doctor’s laid in bed with you.

    I’ll never come home at this rate. My flourishing practice is lost. A successor is robbing me, but to no avail, for he cannot replace me. In my house the disgusting groom is wreaking havoc. Rosa is his victim. I will not think it through. Naked, abandoned to the frost of this unhappy age, with an earthly carriage and unearthly horses, I drive around by myself, an old man. My fur coat hangs behind the wagon, but I cannot reach it, and no one from the nimble rabble of patients lifts a finger. Betrayed! Betrayed! Once one responds to a false alarm on the night bell, there’s no making it good again—not ever.

    ================THE END================
    The doctor makes his escape by horses and carriage, but everything is going wrong. The doctor attempts the same command on the horses as the groom used earlier in the story but he has no control of the horses, “Giddy up,” I said, but there was no giddying up about it. We dragged through the snowy desert like old men; for a long time the fresh but inaccurate singing of the children resounded behind us:
    Enjoy yourselves, you patients.
    The doctor’s laid in bed with you.
    Hear the children chant and reveal that the doctor is truly sick and in the same sickbeds as his patients. In other words, he is doomed. "I’ll never come home at this rate. My flourishing practice is lost. A successor is robbing me, but to no avail, for he cannot replace me. In my house the disgusting groom is wreaking havoc. Rosa is his victim." The doctor attempts to comfort himself by claiming he is irreplaceable, but his house has been turned to chaos and his Rosa has been made a "victim." Then, "I will not think it through. Naked, abandoned to the frost of this unhappy age, with an earthly carriage and unearthly horses, I drive around by myself, an old man. My fur coat hangs behind the wagon, but I cannot reach it, and no one from the nimble rabble of patients lifts a finger." Here the "unearthly" nature of the horses is revealed explicitly; the doctor turns away from the truth of what he has brought upon Rosa, instead bemoaning that he is naked and cold and that no one helps him. Finally, "Betrayed! Betrayed! Once one responds to a false alarm on the night bell, there’s no making it good again—not ever." In truth the doctor is the author of two betrayals, first his Rosa and then his shadow, and this necessarily ends with his death, or at the very least a hellish purgatory in which, "there’s no making it good again—not ever."
    --------------------------------

    #14066
    Bera
    Moderator
    • Type: SeFi
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Seelie

    I LOVE this thread ! <3
    I have to also tell you I thought of Kafka 2 days ago. Somehow a huge cockroach entered my apartment. I decided to save it by chasing it out the door. But the dumb little thing hid under the door and I kept throwing small things at it, without really touching it, so it would finally get the message to get out. Which of course reminded me of Kafka's Metamorphosis, where the father throws an apple at Gregor. 🙂
    What I would like to add is that Rosa is a servant, which is very fitting in this case, as we tend to view our lower functions as support for the lead function.
    Also, for some reason Fi development can come in connection with gross images like the wound of the patient in this story, which looks like Fi in its dark form of Nature as a place of Decay.
    At the same time, when this imagery emerges, there is a wish to control and order it, probably using Te. And we have a very old connection with horses. There is an unconscious link we are making between control and horses as means of transportation. But riding also carries a sexual thematic. Here the solution the doctor thinks of is to use the horses to run back to save Rosa from being raped. But Rosa herself is the wound, so leaving the patient unattended might have actually been a bad choice (psychologically).
    I believe the doctor should have done a surgery, taken the worms out and looked at them being outside of the patient - facing him...and transformed them into something else, like vines growing up to the sky and grapes growing out of them. Or seen them joining together and becoming a huge serpent that would eat the horses and then bring him to Rosa, where it would also eat the rapist and then leave his dead skin on the ground and roses would grow out of it. (I'm just giving examples here :))) They are more on the gamma side, I think. I don't know what Kafka's type was. )
    Same with Gregor turning into a huge "vermin". I personally get this imagery but I avoid it, because to me this is the unconscious ruling. (I can't help referencing a scene in the movie Antichrist in which a dead fox awakens and says "Chaos Reigns !" ).
    But this is not desirable. You don't want to become a cockroach or if you do, you must quickly transform into something else. Every inner image can be transformed into something else (according to my Se-flow philosophy :)) ). Stagnation in a horrible image leads to this defeat the doctor feels. I think this can be interesting in literature, as it has a higher impact on the reader, but psychologically it's destructive. This is why I believe stories in which people are turned temporarily into a beast (for example a werewolf), but either grow out of it or cyclically go back and forth between being a beast and being human are somehow a healthier manifestation of this pull into the dark.
    I actually found an interesting story that involves some transformations like this one and I will try to make a thread about it. 🙂 Until now I think it's a beta story but I'm not sure, so I will ask you guys.
    Also, it would be awesome to analyse some of the themes in Haruki Murakami's novels. He also seems to go pretty much into the territory of the unconscious.
    Finally, I really love a song, I have mentioned it before somewhere on the forum. It reminds me a bit of this story as a general thematic, though there is also this idea of being left alone with the Truth...so, I don't know what to say about the functions of the person who wrote it, but I will share it anyway because of the story, that is quite similar :

    Oh, question - is the Holy Grail a representation of Fi? There are knights trying to find it/protect it. At least I'd say for Fi users it could be Fi. I'm not sure what it is for Fe users, since it is connected to high ideals but also has a certain heart imagery...

    #14068
    Rua
    Moderator
    • Type: NeTi
    • Development: ll-l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    Thanks for the response Bera! This was a really exciting thing to find so I'm glad it resonates with you 🙂
    I think that in terms of posts like these, there is simply so much front-loaded text I suspect people just check out before investing the time/ energy; I am thinking of turning these long, text-based analyses into video or audio tracks when I am done writing them; seems like that could help more people digest the content.
    To talk about your post, yes I had been thinking that there were several things that could be added to the analysis that I was hoping others would pick up on as well (like Rosa being a "servant girl", further evidence for Fi<Te in the story), or even things I hadn't even thought to notice or alternative viewpoints on events (like Rosa literally being "the wound", I didn't think of that directly but it makes perfect sense). Really I just wanted to display the thread of Te-Fi narrative I saw running through the story itself, and at least for one other person that's been accomplished XD.
    In this letter to the woman who was his longest-lasting romantic relationship/ almost wife twice over, Kafka makes some fascinating remarks on his own psychology (thankfully for those of us who have received so much from his work, his best friend Max Brod had the good sense to ignore Kafka's request to have the majority of his letters and manuscripts burned unread upon his death):

    . . . In me there have always been, and still are, two selves wrestling with each other. One of them is very much as you would wish him to be, and by further development he could achieve the little he lacks in order to fulfill your wishes . . . The other self, however, thinks of nothing but work, which is his sole concern; it has the effect of making even the meanest thoughts appear quite normal; the death of his dearest friend would seem to be no more than a hindrance—if only a temporary one—to his work; this meanness is compensated for by the fact that he is also capable of suffering for his work. These two selves are locked in combat, but it is no ordinary fight where two pairs of fists strike out at each other. The first self is dependent upon the second; he would never, for inherent reasons never, be able to overpower him; on the contrary, he is delighted when the second succeeds, and if the second appears to be losing, the first will kneel down at his side, oblivious of everything but him. This is how it is, Felice. And yet they are locked in combat, and they could both be yours . . .

    P.S. After doing a little bit more research on the story it turns out that Kafka confided to Max Brod that in "A Country Doctor" he felt he had predicted the illness that eventually killed him (tuberculosis). This is significant because Kafka also felt that his tuberculosis was psychogenic in origin, which would lead me to believe that Kafka himself recognized the piece contained some vital, personal psychic contents which he also believed were literally killing him 🙁

    #14329
    Bera
    Moderator
    • Type: SeFi
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Seelie

    @rondo - it's a great idea to turn these analyses into video or audio tracks !

    These two selves are locked in combat, but it is no ordinary fight where two pairs of fists strike out at each other. The first self is dependent upon the second; he would never, for inherent reasons never, be able to overpower him; on the contrary, he is delighted when the second succeeds, and if the second appears to be losing, the first will kneel down at his side, oblivious of everything but him.

    This is exactly how I see Te and Fi too. Fighting but also depending on each other.
    Also, I think the first 2 functions tend to make an alliance against the last ones. For example Se & Fi against Ni & Te.
    Regarding Kafka's tuberculosis - I think illness can trigger dreams and visions connected to our functions, because when we are sick, we try to find any possible resources that could help us survive. And not completely developed functions can be this type of resources !
    Also Fi is concerned with protecting life, so this might be the first function that someone would be trying to integrate when he approaches death. And this does not have to be conscious - you can know at a deep...instinctual level that your body temperature is a bit higher than usual without clearly thinking about it. And this can show for example in your dreams, but you can still believe you are healthy. And at this point, when your dreams are telling you something is wrong with your body, already a part of the mind is looking for solutions. And it can find this solution - Rosa ! Where is she? She is needed !
    And this story is reminiscent of dreams, so it can be at least partly based on one. So he could have already had tuberculosis when he wrote the story and this could have triggered a desire to develop Fi. And maybe because Fi was buried deep, this caused the psychological turmoil...so this can all be connected.
    But this is of course just a hypothesis and I could also come up with others. It was the first thing I thought about because I had a dream that was both foretelling of a health problem and in which Ni appeared in its deadly glory. 🙂 And for a long time I thought it was either about illness or about Ni but I came to realize it was about both ! Ni was just there to tell me some nice aphorisms about life and death...because it was appropriate, I suppose. :))
     

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